Tag Archive - wine tasting

Wine and Tech: Picturing a thousand words

Wine and Tech will be (I hope) a series of short posts on using some new technology to support the wine conversation

I have recently come across a number of innovations that are not directly related to wine, but which got me thinking about how they might be used to do fun, useful and social stuff with wine. I thought I would share some of these with you and see if they sparked ideas for you like the have done for me.


How good is your memory? Mine is awful. I’m pretty good with faces, but names are “gone in 60 seconds” (or less). In fact it is the same with wine. Some people can remember what a wine tasted like in previous vintages and minutely compare them from memory. Not me. So I was very excited to learn about EverNote.

EverNote bills itself as the way to “remember everything”. Essentially what it does it take your photos, documents, audio messages and more and not only store them, but index them so you can search and find them later. That isn’t revolutionary on its own, but you need to know that EverNote actually “reads” all the text in the pictures (yes, even the photos) and so you can search for the word in the picture, not just the name of the photo. How cool is that?

What does this have to do with wine? Well, it has always been difficult to capture all the necessary information from a label when you are tasting, especially if in fact you are in a restaurant or bar and not a formal wine event. It is so easy to taste something wonderful and promise yourself that you’ll remember it when you get home … and invariably you don’t. Now, a quick, subtle photo will suffice AND it will be easy to search for again even if you don’t remember much about it in future.

Again, this is quite useful for wine lovers who want to catalogue the causes of their inebriation, but how is this relevant to the wider consumer and the wine conversation?

What I love about the idea is that it allows the average consumer with a mobile phone & camera (and a data plan that allows upload to the web), to record their wine experiences and share them in a useful, searchable and standardised way WITHOUT having to join wine social networks. There are no tasting notes, unless they want to include them, and there is no need to even understand how to read the wine label. A photo, plus a tag such as “buy again” or “hated this” is enough.

Of course the system is much more powerful than I’ve described it, adding GPS codes, matching images etc, but you can explore that if you are keen.

I’m already playing with this and wondering how it might be useful to wine drinkers, so if you have any thoughts, or you use EverNote too, please let me know.

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London Wine Fair Gets Social

LIWF 2008
Image by RobWinton via Flickr

I think this must be my third, or possibly fourth, London Wine Trade Fair (LIWF) since I started writing this blog. As a “Trade Only” show, it might not be of interest to many of you, so I don’t talk about it much unless I come across an interesting story or two. This year might be a little different.

The main reason is that the European Wine Bloggers Conference for 2009 has been announced, and the interest in it is such that Ryan and Gabriella Opaz from Catavino.net (my fellow organisers) and I have been invited to talk about the intersection of the wine business and Social Media. We will be speaking in one of the London Wine Trade Fair’s official ‘Briefing’ slots, on Wednesday the 13th of May at 13:00. Our topic is: “Wine and the Web: the Business of Getting Social“. I look forward to sharing a platform with Ryan Opaz and Dan Coward from Bibendum who are sponsoring this talk.

If you are in the wine trade and you can make it on Wednesday, come along to the talk (RSVP here) – we already have lots of wineries, agents, importers, PR and journalists coming along but there is still space left. We want to keep a good proportion of the time for questions, so come prepared, we’ll try to do the same!

The other exciting news from the London Wine Trade Fair this year is that they have begun to recognise wine bloggers as “Press” just as they do for journalists from traditional media. You get a Press badge, access to the Press Centre, WiFi, and a seat! You do have to have some track record of writing about wine on your blog to qualify, which I think that’s fair (I can imagine there are a lot of people who’d like to be able to come along to the biggest wine tasting in the UK), but otherwise, they are keen to give bloggers access to the world’s top wines. If you are not already on the list and you want to know more, leave me a comment here or email me (thirstforwine AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll pass on the details.

If you read this blog you will find me either on Bibendum’s stand (D30) or on the EWBC booth which has been generously organised by ViniPortugal on their stand (B20).

I’ll certainly be sending some thoughts and pictures from the show floor on twitter. If you want to check it out, make sure you follow me on twitter (I’m @thirstforwine)

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A vintage experience

The recent Oyster & Champagne event at Galvin at Windows was a very interesting experience on several levels (see my previous post)

Firstly, on a personal level, I found the opportunity, and the ‘sense of occasion’, to try my first oysters extremely rewarding. I must say that I still don’t entirely see the attraction of oysters like this. Maybe I need to develop my palate for oysters (for example, one of the most popular was one of my least favourites, one I almost failed to swallow). I guess I have much still to explore. Thank you so much the the lovely people from Wright Brothers who did their best to try and educate me.

Next to the blind tasting of Champagnes, or as it turns out, a range of Sparkling Wines from France, Spain and England. Just in case it needed to be proven again, a blind tasting is a great leveller. Even the “experts” failed to spot that some of the wines were not “champagne”, so much so that these “other” wines will have surprised many of us. In fact, after tasting 8 wines, comparing notes around the tables, and adding all the results together, the top 3 “Champagnes” to match the oysters were:

  1. Gramona Vintage Cava 2000 – Spain
  2. Nyetimber Classic 2001 – England
  3. Galvin House Champagne – France

We didn’t collect the tasting notes, but I know that the Gramona was a pretty clear winner on our table and was mistaken for a top Champagne by a few. It was a nutty, biscuity, crisp and delicious. I must seek it out, but I have the feeling (like many great cavas) it is not available in the UK. Thank you so much to Bruno Murciano, Spanish Sommelier of the Year and now at Bibendum who provided this from his personal cellar I believe.

I think it was a great way to compare different styles of wine. In a way it was great to taste the wines blind so as not to bring in any prejudices (how many would have guessed a Cava would win?) but I also think it was a missed opportunity to talk about these different style to a broad audience. Maybe I’ll do that sometime.

From a Social Media perspective it was interesting to see the convergence of twitter, blogging and live streaming (courtesy of WorldTV on Ustream.com). There were a lot of things to learn and share at this event, almost too many. It was hard to move from kearning about oysters, to tasting wines blind and also sharing some of the experience of dining in a great restaurant with wonderful views. In the end we were a little rushed, but it was still a great experience and fun to meet up with lots of friends.

If you want to read more, read some of the twitter archive here, as well as some of these bloggers’ posts (updated as I find more):

Bibendum
Londonelicious
Trusted Places
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Update on Reaching the Wine Drinker

I’m still waiting to see the reaction from traditional wine press sources (if any), but the “Beyond the TradeTwitter Taste Live event at the Bibendum tasting was a great success.

We had even more participants both at the tasting and at homes & offices around the UK than I expected and the feedback has been incredible.

You can even see one of the many videos taken on the day (thanks to @documentally), just before we kicked off the tasting:

A quick glance at the results shows that there were at least 300 posts on Twitter in the 45 minutes or so we discussed the three wines, and in that time this event become the Number 1 discussed topic on Twitter GLOBALLY (beating Obama himself the day after his inauguration, albeit for a few minutes only).

However, the best part of the event was the numerous comments from non wine experts, but wine consumers, about how they had found so much pleasure in tasting wines, sharing the experience and learning some new stuff, such as tasting varieties or wines from countries like Austria for the very first time.

What better example does anyone in the wine business need, or in any business for that matter, that there are wonderful opportunities out there to engage and educate consumers in ways that are relevant and fun?

I’ll post a round up of comments and feedback soon, but in the meantime, START EXPLORING SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY!

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Live from the London Bloggers tasting

If I am lucky, and you are seeing this page, it means I have found a way to do some Live Blogging of the tasting.

Please feel free to participate and maybe post your thoughts

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